New Abbey Corn Mill
New Abbey Corn Mill is a well-kept secret in the village of New Abbey, five miles south of Dumfries. The corn mill as an attraction is rather overshadowed by Sweetheart Abbey, whose impressive ruins dominate the west end of the village.
The old Corn Mill is a pleasant quarter of a mile stroll from the Sweetheart Abbey along the narrow streets of the village, or visitors can use the small car park opposite the Corn Mill.
New Abbey Corn Mill was built in the late 1700s by the Stewart family of Shambellie House nearby. It was not only a place of work, but also the home of the miller and his family. The mill was built on the site of an older mill, probably built in the late 13th century built by the Cistercian monks of Sweetheart Abbey.
The first recorded miller was the aptly named Thomas Millar, in 1825. The mill had many owners and millers before it finally closed at the end of World War II. The last miller was John Clingan.
There are informative and entertaining demonstrations of the working mill in action which are well worth seeing. There are many warnings of keeping loose clothing and long hair away from the drive shaft and spur wheel as the emergency stop takes two minutes at best!
Demonstrations start at the mill pond, fed by Loch Kindar, where a sluice gate and leat divert the water to the nine-spoked waterwheel. This in turn drives the enormous millstones with a series of huge gears on the ground floor of the watermill.
The next floor up is where the three huge millstones turn to grind corn and wheat for food. The scenic village is surrounded by agriculture which would have needed a local mill to process the grain.
The top floor was used to store the sacks of grain and flour. Imagine carrying those 22 stone (140kg) sacks up the stairs! Eventually the mill machinery was adapted to drive a sack hoist.
What was once the living space for the family is now an exhibition and shop, run by Historic Scotland. This is also the place to see an interesting video about the milling process.
This domestic arrangement was unusual as mills were prone to catch fire and the miller and his family were far safer living in a separate building. The grain always had to be dried in a kiln before it could be ground and this was a frequent cause of fire.
New Abbey Corn Mill offers a fascinating insight into rural village life in times past. The mill stands as a time capsule with everything still in place as it would have been 200 years ago.
The fascinating waterwheel and how it was used to drive machinery is an interesting history lesson for both adults and children in this idyllic attraction.
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In New Abbey village, eight miles south of Dumfries on the A710.
New Abbey Corn Mill Postcode for SatNav: DG2